Sunday, January 25, 2009

Objective-XML 5.0

I've just pushed out a new release of Objective-XML, with some pretty significant new features.

Incremental parsing

This feature, which was already discussed a little in an earlier post, is now available in an official release. In short, Objective-XML will now stream data from network data sources (specified by URL) and produce results incrementally, rather than reading all of the data first and then parsing it. This can make a huge difference in responsiveness and perceived performance for slow networks. CPU and memory consumption will be slightly higher because of extra buffering and buffer stitching required, so this should only be used when necessary.

Static iPhone library

Although Objective-XML has always been compatible with the iPhone, previous releases required copying the pre-requisite files into your project. This burden has now been eased by the inclusion of a static library target. You still need to copy the headers, either MPWMAXParser.h or MPWXmlParser.h (or both).

Unique keys

Previous releases of Objective-XML had an -objectForTag:(int)tag method for quickly retrieving attribute or element values.


enum songtags {
  item_tag=10, title_tag, category_tag	
};
...
  [parser setHandler:self forElements:[NSArray arrayWithObjects:@"item",@"title",@"category",nil]
          inNamespace:nil prefix:@"" map:nil tagBase:item_tag];
...
-itemElement:(MPWXMLAttributes*)children attributes:(MPWXMLAttributes*)attributes parser:(MPWMAXParser*)p
{
   ...
   [song setTitle:[children objectForTag:title_tag]];
   ...

Objective-XML adds an -objectForUniqueKey:aKey method that removes the need for these additional integer tags.
...
  [parser setHandler:self forElements:[NSArray arrayWithObjects:@"item",@"title",@"category",nil]
          inNamespace:nil prefix:@"" map:nil];
...
-itemElement:(MPWXMLAttributes*)children attributes:(MPWXMLAttributes*)attributes parser:(MPWMAXParser*)p
{
   ...
   [song setTitle:[children objectForUniqueKey:@"title"]];
   ...


In addition to providing faster access, the integer tags also served to disambiguate tag names that might occur in multiple namespaces. To handle these conflicts, there now is a -objectForUniqueKey:aKey namespace:aNamespace method. The namespace objects required for this disambiguation process are now returned by the -setHandler:... and -declareAttributes:... methods, which were previously void.

Default methods

One of the attractive features of DOM parsers is that they do something useful "out of the box": point a DOM parser at some XML and you get back a generic in-memory representation of that XML that you can then start taking apart. However, once you go down that road, you are stuck with the substantial CPU and memory overheads of that generic representation.

Streaming parser like SAX or MAX can be a lot more efficient, but it takes a lot more time and effort until achieving a first useful result. Default methods overcome this hurdle by also delivering an immediately useful generic representation without any extra work. Unlike a DOM, however, this generic representation can be incrementally replaced by more specialized and efficient processing later on.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This looks interesting! After a bit of searching, I found a link to the download. To save others the effort:
http://www.metaobject.com/downloads/Objective-C/Objective-XML-5.0.tgz

January 30, 2009 3:47 PM  
Blogger iphonegeek said...

Is there any documentation about how to use it?

January 31, 2009 11:57 AM  
Blogger DieLaughing said...

You still need to add the headers where? And I hate to point this out, but you give no explanation of the build variables that should be set before trying to build. I've tried everything and I'm still getting errors with a fresh install of XCode and nothing but your code loaded.

February 25, 2010 9:07 PM  

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